How To Maintain Healthy Baby Teeth
How To Maintain Healthy Baby Teeth
What makes good teeth on a Baby. The first thing to realize is that the crowns of all the baby teeth (the parts that will show) are formed in the gums before birth. In other words, they are made from what the mother eats during her pregnancy. Research shows that among the food elements necessary to make strong teeth, the following are particularly important: calcium and phosphorus (milk and cheese), vitamin D (vitamin drops and sunshine), vitamin C (vitamin drops, oranges, other citrus fruits, raw tomatoes, cabbage). Other factors are probably necessary, too, including vitamin A and some of the B vitamins.
The baby's permanent teeth, the first of which won't appear until the child is about 6 years old, already are being formed within a few months after birth. Babies at this age are, of course, getting plenty of calcium and phosphorus from their milk diet. They should get C and D vitamins by the time they are a month old. (These are usually added in the form of concentrated drops if they're not in the formula.)
Fluoride makes stronger teeth. One element known to be valuable in the formation of a child's teeth is fluoride - a minute amount in the diet of the mother while she is pregnant, and in the diet of the baby and small child while the permanent teeth are being formed.
Decay is favored by frequent contact with sugars and starches. Dental scientists haven't yet been able to find all the answers to decay (caries) of the teeth. The diet of the pregnant mother and of the baby are important in the formation of the teeth. Heredity probably plays a part.
But some teeth that look strong later decay. Dentists believe that the principal cause of tooth decay is lactic acid. This lactic acid is manufactured by bacteria that live on sugars and starches that are in contact with the teeth. The more hours of the day there are starches and sugars on the teeth, the greater the number of bacteria there are and the more lactic acid is produced to dissolve the enamel of the teeth and create holes. That is why frequent between-meal sucking of lollipops, eating of sticky candy and dried fruit, drinking of sodas, and nibbling of cookies and crackers (which so often stick to the teeth) are particularly liable to cause decay.
When children go on taking bottles in the second year and falling asleep with a mouth full of milk, there sometimes occurs a rapid decay of the teeth. That's why a baby should never be put to bed with a bottle of milk - or juice.
Of course, most fruits contain some sugar, and even vegetables contain a little. But the sugar is diluted and as a result is washed away sooner. And the rough fibers of fruit have a brushing action on the teeth. All of us eat starches to a greater or lesser extent, but we usually take them only at meals and many of them - especially those containing roughage, such as whole grains and potatoes - don't stick long to the teeth. It's the frequent between-meal eating of sugars and starches which stick that is particularly hard on the teeth.
It is sometimes recommended that babies' teeth be brushed when they have their first set of molars. For most babies this would be in the first half of the second year. However, there is something to be said for waiting until children are nearly 2. At this age, they have a passion to copy everything they see done around them. If a 2-year-old girl sees her parents brush their teeth, she one day grabs one of their brushes and insists on trying it herself. This is a good time to buy her a brush and let her go to it. Naturally, she won't be very efficient at first, but you can help her tactfully. Three-quarters of the things that we think we must impose on children as unpleasant duties are things that they enjoy learning to do themselves at a certain stage of their development, if we only give them a chance.